It was that vague promise of freedom from the Russian Mafia that made me not care what happened to the serial killer after I gave them some clues on who to look for as their killer. I knew it was selfish and that Karma might ding me for it, but I had spent the last twenty years looking over my shoulder for mafia assassins and the Russian mob made the Italian mob look like painful inept when it came to brutality. If the Italians would stick a horse head in your bed while you slept, the Russians would have slipped a human head in your bed while you slept to get their point across.
I was in my thirties and I had enough blood and gore in my life without the Russian mob. I was done, just done, with them, I wanted to wash my hands of them and never talk to another mobster ever again. That was my life goal at this point, I just wanted to never have to deal with another mobster showing up at my house ever again. Especially since other crazies were starting to show up there and with Alex and Kenzie moving in next door to me, it wasn’t going to get better. Construction on their houses had begun, but we still hadn’t told either of them about it. I had more than ten acres of land, we had subdivided it, and hired contractors to build houses for Alex and Sebastian, a house his ex-wife wouldn’t know a thing about, even if she did manage to get released from prison, and a house for Kenzie, Anthony, and their brood. And since both their properties would be connected to mine, we were installing the same security system I had on them.
I had gotten the idea from the SCTU when they had been homeless because the FGN had been attacked. We were all getting gates installed over our driveways and a decorative but useful fence put around the entire ten acres I already had owned, plus the extra seven acres I’d had to buy to get approval to build their houses near mine. Zeke had already nicknamed it Nadine’s Compound, which sounded a bit cultish in my opinion, but also had a ring to it that would mean it would stick. For all intents and purposes, it was a miniature FGN because the world was getting more dangerous, not less.
I hadn’t expressed my thoughts on the blowfish sender to Zeke yet, but we had done a job about a year ago providing private protection for a woman that was being stalked by someone she didn’t actually know. We hadn’t caught the guy, but I had been wondering if one of Aislinn’s known but not caught serial killers had been involved. Her electronic notebook had noted a serial killer in Kansas City that liked to stalk and terrorize his victims for months before finally abducting, killing, and torturing them. Some of the details of this woman’s stalker had lined up with things that Ace had noted about the serial killer the SCTU had uncovered but hadn’t had the resources to capture yet. In my mind, it made sense that the stalker had changed targets, from the girl we had provided protection for, to me. After all, I was technically the one that had removed his access to his intended victim.
I wouldn’t have made the connection if Aislinn hadn’t given me access to her notebook. In it, I found a wealth of information on this guy, pretty much everything except his name, address, and shoe size. Ace even had a description of a possible car he drove. It had been picked up on a surveillance camera outside one of his victim’s houses about a month before she was killed. Since the driver wasn’t visible and the killer wasn’t known, it was hard to be sure about it, but her husband, family, and friends, hadn’t recognized the car and the driver hadn’t gotten out and walked to the door, meaning it wasn’t take out being delivered and improving the chances that it was a serial killer.
However, that had given me some ideas about why I was getting blowfish poison and anthrax in the mail at work. If he had a brain, he wouldn’t come to my house, because there was no way to even get to my house without being caught on cameras. It also meant that we were going to beef up security around the compound while building Alex and Kenzie houses. I liked having them close. In the months since they had moved in, I had started to remember how much gal pals meant.
In this world, we were often too busy to make plans to have lunch every Wednesday or go to happy hour at a Mexican place every Tuesday for tacos and margaritas but living together meant I was spending more time with them and it was time I mostly enjoyed when Kenzie wasn’t having a hormonal malfunction and Alex wasn’t making googly eyes at her new husband.
However, Zeke had agreed that having them as neighbors, might be good for all of us when I had originally approached him with the idea. We would have added protection on our property that was in fact kind of stuck in the boonies and they would have the added protection of Zeke and I and Daniels’ Security being a panic button away. Plus, it put a former contract killer, a mercenary, and a former football player all on the same property and Kenzie and Alex both had conceal and carry licenses for their work as private detectives. I had one too, but I rarely carried a gun anymore. It was just a win, win situation to have them close and we all liked being together, but not under the same roof.
Most women only had to deal with life changes when they got married and had kids. My group had life changes when our houses burnt down, because that was the kind of women we were. I understood why people on the outside of our lives thought they were dysfunctional, weird things just happened to me. I was a prime candidate to be abducted by aliens. Or stumble upon Patient Zero of the zombie apocalypse. If it was out of the ordinary, it was likely to happen to me. Alex and Kenzie weren’t any better though.
I was happy Kenzie had finally found someone that might not require alimony if they got divorced. She was one of those women that was addicted to love. Always had been. As teens my mother had called her boy crazy, which I had never thought quite accurate. It wasn’t about boys, it was about Kenzie.
Kenzie needed to be in love with someone. And she had often practiced the idea of if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with, which was a terrible philosophy for healthy, stable relationships. Having a child might help though and Anthony wasn’t just a good guy, he was about perfect for Kenzie. When he wasn’t in the middle of a hormone malfunction, he was devoted to her. When he was, he tended to blubber a lot about his life choices.
Essentially, they were good for each other, just like Zeke and I had been good for each other. I would probably never tell my mother that she had been right, Zeke was a keeper, but she had been, and Zeke was a keeper. He treated me right, loved me passionately and deeply, cared about my feelings and mental health and he was generally not selfish like most of the men I had dated or been engaged to in the past.
In many ways, Zeke and I’s relationship was a comedy of errors, like me blooding his nose by nodding my head, while he cuddled with me before I met with powerful Russian mob guys come daylight. However, it was a comedy of errors that worked for us. And we had six great Danes and a couple of bobcats as proof.
“Now, you’re smiling,” Zeke still sounded like he had a cold.
“I was thinking about us and the Danes, and the bobcats, and my crazy cousins and their husbands and the new baby in our lives,” I told him.
“And that makes you happy,” Zeke said.
“Yes.” I told him. “I know it doesn’t seem like I am happy all the time, but I am. Or rather, I am contented all the time and happy most of the time.” I corrected myself.
“I don’t think it is possible to make you happy all the time.” Zeke agreed with the correction.
“Me either. You realize we have to be up in six hours, right?” I asked him.
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This book is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination and are purely fictitious. Any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, are completely coincidental.
Copyright © Hadena James 2016
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